If you have been assaulted by another person whether in a public or private place, your only avenue of remedy for any injuries sustained may be to make a claim through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme which unfortunately is much more limited in scope than it has been previously.
A question is raised where the person who assaults you is working at the time of the assault as to whether their employer is liable for their employee’s conduct. This will depend upon the circumstances of each individual case, but there have been a number of decisions made in the Courts over recent years in relation to such cases.
Historically the position was that the acts of the employee had to be sufficiently connected to his employment in order for the employer to be vicariously liable.
This was demonstrated in the case of David Mattis v Flamingo’s Nightclub . Mr Mattis become involved in an altercation outside of the Flamingos Nightclub club. One of the doormen left the club and went to his home and armed himself with a knife. He returned and stabbed Mr Mattis causing very serious injuries to his spinal cord which left him paraplegic. Mr Mattis sued the owner of the nightclub for his injuries. Initially the Court dismissed the claim, on the basis that by leaving the club and returning home, the doorman was no longer acting in the course of his employment. Mr Mattis appealed and the Court of Appeal found in his favour. The Court found that the stabbing was closely related to the job of a doorman within the Defendant’s nightclub and that, as his employer, the owner of the club was vicariously liable.
A number of years later in 2014, a Mr Mohamud brought a claim against Morrisons. Mr Mohamud had been to a Morrisons petrol station in Birmingham. He was subjected to racist abuse, followed by a physical attack, from an employee at the petrol station. Mr Mohamud sued Morrisons for the attack and Morrisons denied liability on the basis that the employee was acting outside the course of his employment when he attacked Mr Mohamud. The Court dismissed Mr Mohamud’s claim, finding that there was not a sufficiently close connection between the assault and the job of sales assistant that the assailant was employed to do. Mr Mohamud appealed, and the Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal, agreeing with the decision of the lower court. However, Mr Mohamud then appealed to the House of Lords who found in his favour and held Morrisons liable to compensate him for his injuries.
More recently, Mr Bellman brought a claim against his employers for injuries he sustained when he was assaulted by their Managing Director. The incident occurred after a Christmas party, when some of the staff had gone to a local hotel to continue drinking. Initially the Court dismissed Mr Bellman’s claim on the basis that the incident occurred during a social event which was unrelated to the Managing Director’s employment. However, when Mr Bellman appealed the decision, the Court of Appeal found in his favour, placing some reliance upon the responsible position which the Managing Director held.
It seems that the Courts have over the last few years been willing to extend the circumstances in which an employer will be responsible for the acts of his employees which may be welcome news for those injured by members of the public who are working at the time.
At Jordans Solicitors we are concerned by the uncertainty of these upcoming reforms. We understand that, as a victim of an accident, you may need help and support to make a claim for compensation and to ensure you receive the correct level of damages. We have a dedicated team of lawyers able to assist you in pursuing a claim for compensation with offices across Yorkshire in Dewsbury, Horsforth, Selby and Wakefield.